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      Callers’ Experiences of Contacting a National Suicide Prevention Helpline : Report of an Online Survey


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          Background: Helplines are a significant phenomenon in the mixed economy of health and social care. Given the often anonymous and fleeting nature of caller contact, it is difficult to obtain data about their impact and how users perceive their value. This paper reports findings from an online survey of callers contacting Samaritans emotional support services. Aims: To explore the (self-reported) characteristics of callers using a national suicide prevention helpline and their reasons given for contacting the service, and to present the users’ evaluations of the service they received. Methods: Online survey of a self-selected sample of callers. Results: 1,309 responses were received between May 2008 and May 2009. There were high incidences of expressed suicidality and mental health issues. Regular and ongoing use of the service was common. Respondents used the service for complex and varied reasons and often as part of a network of support. Conclusions: Respondents reported high levels of satisfaction with the service and perceived contact to be helpful. Although Samaritans aims to provide a crisis service, many callers do not access this in isolation or as a last resort, instead contacting the organization selectively and often in tandem with other types of support.

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          Most cited references38

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          Suicide and suicidal behavior.

          Suicidal behavior is a leading cause of injury and death worldwide. Information about the epidemiology of such behavior is important for policy-making and prevention. The authors reviewed government data on suicide and suicidal behavior and conducted a systematic review of studies on the epidemiology of suicide published from 1997 to 2007. The authors' aims were to examine the prevalence of, trends in, and risk and protective factors for suicidal behavior in the United States and cross-nationally. The data revealed significant cross-national variability in the prevalence of suicidal behavior but consistency in age of onset, transition probabilities, and key risk factors. Suicide is more prevalent among men, whereas nonfatal suicidal behaviors are more prevalent among women and persons who are young, are unmarried, or have a psychiatric disorder. Despite an increase in the treatment of suicidal persons over the past decade, incidence rates of suicidal behavior have remained largely unchanged. Most epidemiologic research on suicidal behavior has focused on patterns and correlates of prevalence. The next generation of studies must examine synergistic effects among modifiable risk and protective factors. New studies must incorporate recent advances in survey methods and clinical assessment. Results should be used in ongoing efforts to decrease the significant loss of life caused by suicidal behavior.
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            Digital Ethnography: An Examination of the Use of New Technologies for Social Research

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              Gender-related differences in the characteristics of problem gamblers using a gambling helpline.

              The characteristics of male and female gamblers utilizing a gambling helpline were examined to identify gender-related differences. The authors performed logistic regression analyses on data obtained in 1998-1999 from callers to a gambling helpline serving southern New England. Of the 562 phone calls used in the analyses, 349 (62.1%) were from male callers and 213 (37.9%) from female callers. Gender-related differences were observed in reported patterns of gambling, gambling-related problems, borrowing and indebtedness, legal problems, suicidality, and treatment for mental health and gambling problems. Male gamblers were more likely than female gamblers to report problems with strategic or "face-to-face" forms of gambling, e.g., blackjack or poker. Female gamblers were more likely to report problems with nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, e.g., slot machines or bingo. Female gamblers were more likely to report receiving nongambling-related mental health treatment. Male gamblers were more likely to report a drug problem or an arrest related to gambling. High rates of debt and psychiatric symptoms related to gambling, including anxiety and depression, were observed in both groups. Individuals with gambling disorders have gender-related differences in underlying motivations to gamble and in problems generated by excessive gambling. Different strategies may be necessary to maximize treatment efficacy for men and for women with gambling problems.

                Author and article information

                Hogrefe Publishing
                July 3 2012
                : 33
                : 6
                : 313-324
                [1 ]Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
                [2 ]School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
                [3 ]NIHR Research Design Service for the East Midlands, University of Nottingham, UK
                [4 ]Communication Department, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, USA
                Author notes
                Catherine M. Coveney3.09 Ramphal BuildingDepartment of SociologyUniversity of WarwickCoventry, CV4 7ALUK Phone: +44 24 76523147 Fax: +44 24 76523497 E-mail: c.m.coveney@ 123456warwick.ac.uk
                © 2012 Hogrefe Publishing..

                Distributed under the Hogrefe OpenMind License

                : 13 July 2010
                : 17 October 2011
                : 23 January 2011
                Research Trends

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                helplines,callers’ perspectives,suicide,samaritans,mental health


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